Most pet owners would agree that their pet is part of the family. Our four (or one and more) legged friends show us unconditional love and can be a vital source of emotional support. At AKT, we talk to lots of young people who face barriers to accessing accommodation because they have pets.

We’ve put this article together to inform you of your rights and options as a pet owner with a housing problem. We also understand that this is a very stressful situation for both the owner and the pet so have included some links to general pet advice services to aid you in this transition to a new home.

Pets and Homelessness

If someone becomes homeless, and needs to access emergency accommodation, most accommodation providers operate a ‘no pets’ policy, which means that people are often forced to choose between their pet or shelter.

Legally, pets are classed as a person’s property, which a local authority has duties to protect if they owe homelessness duties to a pet owner.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance advises local authorities to be sensitive and give special consideration to the importance of pets when looking for suitable emergency accommodation for homeless pet owners, but recognises that this isn’t always possible.

Dogs On The Streets (DOTS) is a charity built to help any homeless person with a dog with a variety of resources, from food, medical aid, housing and fostering.

If you find yourself in this position, there are charities doing amazing work who might be able to help you find a solution that works for you and your pet.

Veterinary Care

Street Paws provide veterinary care or an emergency kennel space in various cities across the UK to support any pet owner experiencing homelessness.

StreetVet is a charity that provides free essential care and services to those facing homelessness in the UK

The PDSA offer several services to pet owners on a low income If you’re struggling to afford vet bills or treatment for your pet.

Dogs Trust operate the Hope Project for homeless dog owners which includes a veterinary scheme, a Christmas parcel service and a tool to help pet owners find hostel accommodation which accepts dog owners.

Pet Fostering

Cats Protection run Paws Protect, a pet fostering service for people fleeing domestic abuse.

You can contact your local RSPCA or Blue Cross to find out if your pet could be fostered.

The Dogs Trust also operate the Freedom Project which provides temporary rehoming with a foster family for your pet until you find accommodation that’s suitable for both of you.

Pet Advice

Woodgreen Pets Charity, The RPCA, The Blue Cross each have an excellent collection of pet resources from dogs to chickens and everything in-between.

Pets and Private Renting

A government report in January 2021 found just 7% of Private Landlords advertised their properties as pet friendly. This creates a barrier for people trying to access the private rented sector and some people have had to give their pets up.

If a private landlord refuses to let to you because you have a pet, you could not claim that you had been discriminated against as this is not covered by the Equality Act 2010.

The government issued a new model tenancy in January 2021 which made consent for pets the ‘default’ position – but not all landlords use this tenancy agreement, and they are not required to by law.

Zoopla have put together a useful guide on renting with pets including how to talk to landlords about your pets and what not to do (for example keeping a pet without informing your landlord, which could put you at risk of eviction).

The Dogs Trust have set up the ‘Lets with Pets’ website which provides detailed information to pet owners, landlords and letting agencies about letting accommodation to pet owners and includes a feature where you can search for pet-friendly accommodation!

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